CD Kestrel 140 with a mind of its own

Hi, all,

I have a new Current Designs Kestrel 140 (rotomolded, ruddered) which has an issue, or maybe it’s me with the issue - I’m pretty new to kayaking and this is my first kayak. Issue is that with the rudder up, every now and then the boat will suddenly pull to one side and I get about 90 degrees off course really quickly, and it seems as though I have to paddle REALLY hard on the side it pulls to to get back on course - it feels like the rudder dropped and is hard over, but the rudder is not deployed. With the rudder down and straight, no issues, and the boat responds beautifully to the rudder. Mostly it goes to the right when this happens, but not always.

The keel is straight as far as I can tell, no shipping damage, and it’s a very intermittent problem.

I’d just use the rudder whenever possible, but I feel as though I shouldn’t have to be dependent on the rudder. We have a rudderless Kestrel 120 OC also, and that boat is extremely well-behaved.

Things I’ve considered:

Wind - this doesn’t seem to be related to wind - the boat weathercocks a bit, sure, but this wandering tendency happens suddenly when there’s little to no wind blowing.

Unintentional edging - I don’t think it’s this, the boat has a pretty soft chine and it doesn’t react much when I intentionally edge it either side.

Loaded too heavy at one end or the other (coworker’s suggestion) - nope, empty boat (besides me).

Loaded with too much kayaker - I’m 5’11", 250, boat claims to be good to 325 pounds, wouldn’t think there’s an issue there.

And I’m pretty much out of ideas after that. Any suggestions for this rookie? Is this boat perhaps just one that weathercocks with the slightest breeze?

Thanks in advance for any advice -

Are you paddling river mouths?
Or places where creeks enter a larger river? Odds are that part of it is you, but as a new paddler you may not be aware of when you catch a little current.

I don’t think that’s it, as the first time I noticed this was in the middle of a smallish lake. I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if it was me, though. :slight_smile: On the other hand, although I’m still pretty new to this, I haven’t this happen in either of the two other kayaks I’ve been out in. (I have a total of about four hours in those other two boats, both 12-footers, and another 6 or so in the kayak where I’m having the issue.) Maybe it’s me and this boat together. Thanks for the suggestion regardless! I have another river trip planned for the weekend, perhaps with more experience I’ll get it sorted out.

Shallow water?
Sometimes you unknowingly come into shallow water. You may feel like your stroke is bogging down, generally. But, sometimes, it causes a directional bias, as well.

How much do you weigh?
It’s quite reasonable to make an efficient hull and rely on a rudder for tracking. Also you may be light in the hull which reduces what effect the stern might have in tracking. There are a LOT of rudder dependent designs out there and you may also not be adept at keeping a maneuverable kayak on track.

notorious weathercockers
Your post brings back all the memories. This may or may not help, but allow me to share:

My first kayak, in 2005, was the roto-molded CD 140…the same one you speak of, minus the rudder. I was told by experienced paddlers to forget the rudder option unless I was on the ocean or Great Lakes. I was told it could develop bad habits and yes, I could have become to dependent on the rudder. I am so happy I never got that rudder! If I can’t track a boat straight, regardless of wind, then I am not an efficient paddler. So I learned the hard way.

When I fist took the CD out on the small lake, with very little wind, I instantly became frustrated that my boat wanted to stray left…constantly. I posted the same kind of comments and questions here in 2005 as you have done here. Nothing anyone said made me feel better. Instead, I took some formal paddling instruction and learned that I could definitely keep my kayak tracking straight while paddling and just compensate on one side or the other when the bow started pointing in a direction i didn’t want it to go. I learned to accept that if I paddled like hell and then stopped…my boat was going to start veering off course. I think most boats will do this. I learned to not let it bug me and it didn’t. I later learned that though most kayaks will do this at some point and they all act different depending on shape, material and craftsmanship, the CD 140, specifically the plastic version, weathercocked and mis-tracked more than the others. My opinion only. I then moved onto solo canoe and now SUP and I have come to trust that tracking has everything to do with me, not so much the boat or board.

Yaw Couple

– Last Updated: Aug-31-12 11:09 AM EST –

CD’s KESTRAL 140 is pinched, heavily Veed and significantly rockered at both stems. That combination makes it slow due to early flow separation at the cheeks. The Veed stems decrease volume so it is tippy, and the stern rocker compromises tracking.

What's going on is the paddler is initiating a Yaw Couple, probably by carrying the paddle aft of the body into an arced sweep or via differential shaft angles, causing more sweep in one side.

Once that fine bow starts turning to either side, the sharp V accentuates a deflecting carve to that side. As the rotational center, the loci of all forces on the hull, roughly located at the kayaker's feet, offsets with the carve, the Center of gravity, pretty much the paddler's torso, continues on course and the rockered stern skids out to the other side.

Try not to carry the blade aft of mid-thigh, make sure the paddle isn't carried further aft on one side and use the same shaft angle on both sides of the hull.

Thank you!

– Last Updated: Aug-30-12 11:27 PM EST –

Excellent comments all, and Gutwrencher, really interesting to hear your comments on this specific boat, which confirms my feeling that it's a combination of issues with me and with the boat, and CEWilson, your comments on the 140's hull shape feel spot-on with regard to what the boat feels like to me. I'll keep all of this in mind this weekend and going forward, and I may look into some instruction soon as well.

This was my first forum post here - thanks so much for the feedback to all who responded!

Edit: Reread more closely to make sure I'm getting it all - CEWilson, I have been carrying my stroke through really hard and well beyond mid-thigh, so I will watch this in future. Also, I've noticed that this boat seems unhappy when I try to force it beyond a certain speed - there's a sweet spot where it takes very little effort to maintain the glide, but trying to exceed that speed seems to take a LOT of work, and come to think of it, the yaw has been happening mainly when I'm trying to force the boat. So, yes, I think that is the issue right there. Wow, that's awesome. :) Thanks again, everyone!

A clean forward stroke
Makes all the difference

I love my Kestrel 140 and it’s handling!
Ok I do have the 40 pound composite version but the hulls are not that different. So maybe I can give you advice. Keep in mind that I’m a very beginning instructor so the advice may not be the greatest.

1)Keep the rudder up as much as possible. This will help you learn to paddle much better in the long run. If you are getting way behind the group or having trouble making it home then go ahead and use it. I rarely use a rudder unless using a canoe paddle or sailing.

2) Pull the blade out of the water at your knees. If you try for this, then you stand a good chance of having a decent forward stroke. Lots of beginners do not reach for their toes on the catch. And they do a lot of weird stuff with the paddle behind their mid thigh that uses energy but does not move the boat along.

3) Pay attention to your edging. The Kestrel response very well to an outside edge. This is opposite to a bicycle or a surfboard. So try leaning away from the turn a little an give the boat a sweep. Then compare how that works to leaning into the turn. Remember a little edging goes a long way.

4) Paddle lots. You’ll notice the boat getting better in your first 10 hours without the rudder. As your boat time gets to about 100 hours you will be doing corrective edging and strokes without even thinking about it.

Somewhat different experience
I had a thermoformed Kestrel 140 for a while. I found it had very good glide and no problem with stability or tracking at all. I gave it up because of the excessive width and the humongous cockpit, but I thought it paddled beautifully. I don’t like a sharp Vee at all, but I wouldn’t say the Kestrel has a sharp Vee, unless the rotomolded has a different hull design from the old thermoformed model.

Some observations I’ve made with others
and myself (when I first started kayaking).

Some tend to not pay attention to where their grip is on the paddle shaft, allowing more length on one side when drawing the blade through the water. Another issue can (been there done this) is to tend to want to be a little more comfy and found myself bending one leg up and leaning it toward the other, which changes the shift in body weight. I also learned to sit up straight as the boat is not intended to be my recliner. THAT was not good for my back.

May the suggestions of other CD 140 owners help you as you go forward in the great sport of paddling.

Am paying close attention
to all the excellent advice here. :slight_smile:

Go to Youtube, watch jimsquad videos. Big help to me in getting my speed up.